Best Japanese Books
(Note: if the author is not Japanese, the book is not Japanese.)
1 Norwegian Wood
by
4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 127,555 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
2 The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
by
4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 106,805 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
3 Kafka on the Shore
by
4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 116,482 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
4 Battle Royale
by
4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 27,980 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
5 Hard-Boiled Wonderland and ...
by
4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 49,657 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
6 1Q84 (1Q84, #1-3)
by
3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 83,819 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
7 Out
by
3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 11,708 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
8 Kitchen
by
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 19,684 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
9 After Dark
by
3.65 of 5 stars 3.65 avg rating — 49,131 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
10 Sputnik Sweetheart
by
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 46,894 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
11 A Wild Sheep Chase (The Rat...
by
3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 40,922 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
12 South of the Border, West o...
by
3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 36,933 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
13 Dance Dance Dance (The Rat,...
by
4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 33,241 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
14 The Woman in the Dunes
by
3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 8,630 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
15 Snow Country
by
3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 7,336 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
16 Kokoro
by
3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 6,276 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
17 The Tale of Genji
by
3.68 of 5 stars 3.68 avg rating — 5,660 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
18 Grotesque
by
3.65 of 5 stars 3.65 avg rating — 4,984 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
19 Rashomon and Seventeen Othe...
by
4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 4,489 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
20 I Am a Cat
by
3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 3,101 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
21 After the Quake
by
3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 17,737 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
22 In the Miso Soup
by
3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 avg rating — 7,211 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
23 Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
by
3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 16,326 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
24 The Sailor Who Fell from Gr...
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 6,649 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
25 Confessions of a Mask
by
3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 5,381 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
26 The Pillow Book
by
4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 2,879 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
27 Goodbye Tsugumi
by
3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 avg rating — 4,114 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
28 Ring (Ring, #1)
by
3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 6,909 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
29 Musashi
by
4.41 of 5 stars 4.41 avg rating — 7,428 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
30 Beauty and Sadness
by
3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 3,153 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
31 The Temple of the Golden Pa...
by
3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 4,791 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
32 The Elephant Vanishes
by
3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 18,834 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
33 The Housekeeper and the Pro...
by
3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 12,455 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
34 Thousand Cranes
by
3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 3,631 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
35 A Personal Matter
by
3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 4,578 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
36 No Longer Human
by
4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 3,454 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
37 Coin Locker Babies
by
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 3,369 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
38 Underground
by
3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 7,072 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
39 The Makioka Sisters
by
3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 2,782 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
40 Asleep
by
3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 4,089 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
41 Real World
by
3.4 of 5 stars 3.40 avg rating — 3,366 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
42 Spring Snow
by
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 4,779 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
43 Silence
by
4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 4,749 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
44 Geisha, a Life
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 11,419 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
45 Botchan
by
3.53 of 5 stars 3.53 avg rating — 3,622 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
46 N.P.
by
3.56 of 5 stars 3.56 avg rating — 4,416 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
47 Naomi
by
3.68 of 5 stars 3.68 avg rating — 2,070 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
48 The Sound of Waves
by
3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 4,618 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
49 Amrita
by
3.64 of 5 stars 3.64 avg rating — 2,767 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
50 Almost Transparent Blue
by
3.34 of 5 stars 3.34 avg rating — 3,394 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
51 Snakes and Earrings
by
3.18 of 5 stars 3.18 avg rating — 2,267 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
52 The Sound of the Mountain
by
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 2,217 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
53 Audition
by
3.46 of 5 stars 3.46 avg rating — 2,525 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
54 The Box Man
by
3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 1,861 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
55 The Book of Tea
by
3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 3,503 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
56 Totto-chan: The Little Girl...
by
4.29 of 5 stars 4.29 avg rating — 10,016 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
57 In Praise of Shadows
by
4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 2,757 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
58 The Devotion of Suspect X
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 7,218 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
59 Runaway Horses
by
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 2,133 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
60 The Master of Go
by
3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 1,803 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
61 Black Rain
by
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 1,676 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
62 The Silent Cry
by
3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 1,388 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
63 Hear the Wind Sing (The Rat...
by
3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 avg rating — 3,803 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
64 The Setting Sun
by
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 1,665 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
65 The Old Capital
by
3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 1,455 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
66 Shipwrecks
by
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 789 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
67 House of the Sleeping Beaut...
by
3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 2,260 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
68 Forbidden Colors
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 1,324 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
69 Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids
by
3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 1,691 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
70 Dark Water
by
3.59 of 5 stars 3.59 avg rating — 1,520 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
71 Lizard
by
3.64 of 5 stars 3.64 avg rating — 3,219 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
72 The Waiting Years
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 708 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
73 The Samurai's Garden
by
4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 12,787 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
74 GOTH, Volume 1
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 1,243 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
75 All She Was Worth
by
3.68 of 5 stars 3.68 avg rating — 1,494 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
76 Be With You
by
3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 811 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
77 The Diary of Lady Murasaki
by
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 655 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
78 Kwaidan: Stories and Studie...
by
3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 1,204 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
79 Kastel Awan Burung Gereja (...
by
3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 2,016 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
80 The Confessions of Lady Nijō
by
3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 227 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
81 Tales of Moonlight and Rain
by
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 595 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
82 Some Prefer Nettles
by
3.66 of 5 stars 3.66 avg rating — 1,475 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
83 Uzumaki, Vol. 1
by
4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 4,023 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
84 Anthology of Japanese Liter...
by
3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 311 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
85 Fires on the Plain
by
3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 551 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
86 The Diving Pool: Three Nove...
by
3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 1,696 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
87 Death in Midsummer and Othe...
by
4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 1,558 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
88 Palm-of-the-Hand Stories
by
4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 1,356 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
89 Japanese Tales of Mystery &...
by
4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 1,084 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
90 The Decay of the Angel
by
4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 1,455 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
91 Spiral (Ring, #2)
by
3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 2,397 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
92 Teach Us to Outgrow Our Mad...
by
3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 1,012 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
93 Kamikaze Girls
by
4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 888 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
94 The Wild Geese
by
3.65 of 5 stars 3.65 avg rating — 516 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
95 Deep River
by
3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 973 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
96 Tokyo Zodiac Murders (Detec...
by
3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 699 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
97 The 47 Ronin Story
by
3.68 of 5 stars 3.68 avg rating — 1,978 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
98 The Three-Cornered World
by
3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 773 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
99 Diary of a Mad Old Man
by
3.61 of 5 stars 3.61 avg rating — 917 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
100 The Temple of Dawn
by
3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 1,570 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
flag this list (?)
393 books · 1,830 voters · list created June 21st, 2008 by Mitu (votes) .
586 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Mitu
Mitu
89 books
3 friends
Jessica
Jessica
2116 books
100 friends
Holly
Holly
424 books
82 friends
Greyweather
Greyweather
2092 books
53 friends
Joel
Joel
96 books
2 friends
Zoe
Zoe
420 books
41 friends
Jenn
Jenn
1541 books
36 friends
Karen
Karen
892 books
58 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-50 of 64) (64 new)


message 1: by Mofo (new)

Mofo Why isn't Battle Royale on this list?


message 2: by Jenni (new)

Jenni If The Unconsoled is on this list, then Never Let Me Goshould be on it.


message 3: by Russell (new)

Russell kazuo ishiguro writes in english.


message 4: by Jenni (new)

Jenni Russell wrote: "kazuo ishiguro writes in english."

Correct, but The Unconsoled is on this list, and it is written by Ishiguro. :)


message 5: by John (new)

John Kerrison Mofo wrote: "Why isn't Battle Royale on this list? "

It is. 5th one down.


message 6: by Nelliel (new)

Nelliel The Last Concubine by Leslie Downer...


message 7: by Nozomi (new)

Nozomi The Tale of Genji needs to be on this list.


message 8: by Jenni (new)

Jenni Nozomi wrote: "The Tale of Genji needs to be on this list."

Agreed!



message 9: by Paul (new)

Paul JB Kazuo Ishiguro not only writes in English, he IS English. 'The Unconsoled' shouldn't be on this list. It's not even set in Japan.


message 10: by Bill (new)

Bill Johnston The Mishima novel I've re-read the most (Runaway Horses) isn't on this list, either.


message 11: by Dawn (new)

Dawn "Shogun" isn't a Japanese book, but I voted for it anyway---great historical novel!


message 12: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Plum Wine By Angela Davis?


message 13: by Cura (new)

Cura I voted on Birthday :)
Lemon Heart was heart shattering...


message 14: by Alex (last edited Jul 19, 2010 04:36AM) (new)

Alex Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro deleted. (not a Japanese book)

see Paul's comments above.

*Also have deleted Memoirs of a Geisha and another Kazuo Ishiguro book "Nocturnals etc.."

Same reason - Not Japanese. Geisha might be about Japan but it wasn't first written in Japanese or by a Japanese person.


message 15: by Yas (new)

Yas Actually Ishiguro was born in Japan so I think that makes him Japanese regardless of which language he writes in.


message 16: by Paul (new)

Paul JB (RESURRECTS THREAD)

Yas, you are entirely correct that he was born in Japan, and I believe he still holds Japanese citizenship. But he moved from Nagasaki when he was 5, and he has talked extensively in interviews about his irritation at lazy lit-critics trying to peg his style as Japanese. When he does write about Japan, such as in his first two novels, it is always in a very self-consciously imaginary fashion. So even though you may lay some fair claim to his Japanese ethnicity, the books themselves don't really belong on this list in my humble opinion.


message 17: by Alex (new)

Alex I agree Paul and while Ishiguro has Japanese heritage his books are written in English which don't make them "Japanese" books even if they are about Japan. (still haven't read any of them yet)


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmmm Geisha, a life by Mineko Iwasaki isn't here either.


message 20: by christokristo (new)

christokristo Ishiguro was born in Japan but move to england while he was 6 or 7 and he already have British citizenship. I think his works should not on be the lists


message 21: by Kirei (new)

Kirei He became a British citizen when he was 22 years old. Since he is both British and Japanese, he should be included.


message 22: by Trang (new)

Trang Le Kirei wrote: "He became a British citizen when he was 22 years old. Since he is both British and Japanese, he should be included."

How can his books be included when he was English bred, identifies more with Britain and his books are not concerned about Japan?


message 23: by Livy (new)

Livy just out of curiosity, what is Catcher in the Rye doing on this list?


message 24: by Fincalian (new)

Fincalian And what is I was Told There'd be Cake doing on here?


message 25: by Michael (last edited Nov 08, 2011 03:00PM) (new)

Michael Bacon Deleted "Never Let Me Go," "I Was Told There'd Be Cake," and "Catcher in the Rye." In each case, the author is not Japanese, the book was written in English, and the subject matter is not related to Japan. Nothing about these books are Japanese, so they are inappropriate to this list.


message 26: by David (new)

David Incredible list! I have read several of these and saved even more to my "to read" list! I added several more that I thought might belong on this list including:

So Sad to Fall in Battle
Something Like an Autobiography
20th Century Boys
Battle Angel Alita
Japan Atlas
Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams
Mishima's Sword
The Rising Sun
A Modern History of Japan
A Hundred Years of Japanese Film
Dreaming Pachinko

The last five on the list are on Japan but not by Japanese authors so not sure which of those would fit best on this list (please delete if you feel necessary, it will not offend me). I own all those books and they are all really good. Great list!


message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian Wold Mofo wrote: "Why isn't Battle Royale on this list? "

Because it is a list of "the best" Japanese books. Battle Royale is a classic and a great alternative to Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies. I was going to write how it should not be considered "the best" but as I am writing my thoughts I have started to see your point. I wouldn't put it on this list for its amateur craftsmanship and pulpy violence. But I wouldn't object if you put Battle Royale on the list.


message 28: by Alex (new)

Alex Battle Royale is on the list, it's in 4th place and I would hardly call it an alternative to Hunger Games. Hunger Games pretty much ripped off Battle Royale, made it more YA and gave it a female lead to get more readers and it worked.


message 29: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Fully agree with Alex.


message 30: by Masanaka (new)

Masanaka Takashima Thank you for the wonderful list! I would like you to include these next time: "Lonely Hearts Killer" by Tomoyuki Hoshino; "The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P" by Rieko Matsuura; "The Doctor's Wife" by Sawako Ariyoshi


message 31: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Masanaka,

Click "add books to this list" at the top of the page and then type in those three books. The list is made by everyone.


message 32: by Masanaka (new)

Masanaka Takashima Hi Michael, thank you for letting me know how this space grow. I have just added the books above and more. Cheers.


message 33: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon No problem, Masanaka.


message 34: by Sizilien (new)

Sizilien I love "The Summer of the Ubume".


message 35: by GlenK (new)

GlenK Didn't see The Tattoo Murder Case on the list. Excellent locked-room mystery set in post-WWII Tokyo.


message 36: by Matīss (new)

Matīss Livy wrote: "just out of curiosity, what is Catcher in the Rye doing on this list?"

I wonder about it, too. And so many votes... What does that mean?


message 37: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Matīss wrote: "Livy wrote: "just out of curiosity, what is Catcher in the Rye doing on this list?"

I wonder about it, too. And so many votes... What does that mean?"


I wonder what that means too. I deleted it... again.


message 38: by Mark (last edited Feb 01, 2013 11:49PM) (new)

Mark It is interesting that "Across The Nightingale Floor" is on the list. Although the "Tales of the Otori" books are set in a place fairly closely resembling feudal Japan, they are actually set in a fictional island nation, not any real place in Japan.


message 39: by Michael (last edited Feb 03, 2013 08:31PM) (new)

Michael Bacon Mark wrote: "It is interesting that "Across The Nightingale Floor" is on the list. Although the "Tales of the Otori" books are set in a place fairly closely resembling feudal Japan, they are actually set in a f..."

Where the books take place is irrelevant. The author is not Japanese though, so I'll remove the book.


message 40: by Mark (new)

Mark Oh, OK. Though it was just a comment.


message 41: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Yep, just clarifying how the list works! Someone managed to remove the book before I got to it. Yay!


message 43: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Thanks, Anna!


message 44: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Woodfine This seems a great list, and just what im looking for. Il be honest, ive only really read Haruki Murakami, but want to delve further into Japanese literature. Do any of you guys have any recommendations for the next books to read?


message 45: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon The strange otherworldiness of Kpbo Abe's The Box Man might be a fitting follow-up to Murakami.


message 46: by Evan (new)

Evan Lavine Great List!


message 47: by Evan (new)

Evan Lavine Not sure if I saw Revenge by Yoko Ogawa. Absolutely love that quiet little book of short stories that roll up on you in the most hauntingly beautiful way!


message 48: by Booklovinglady (last edited Apr 11, 2013 06:55AM) (new)

Booklovinglady The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (no. 104) is not a Japanese book. The story may be set in Japan (for the most part, anyway) but the author, David Mitchell, is British (Merseyside) and lives in Europe. Therefore, the book has been deleted.


message 49: by Wong (new)

Wong Casandra Booklovinglady wrote: "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (no. 104) is not a Japanese book. The story may be set in Japan (for the most part, anyway) but the author, David Mitchell, is British (Merseyside) and lives i..."


Agreed. Good book though.


message 50: by Wong (new)

Wong Casandra Evan wrote: "Not sure if I saw Revenge by Yoko Ogawa. Absolutely love that quiet little book of short stories that roll up on you in the most hauntingly beautiful way!"

I particularly liked the story about the girl who was in love with her diver stepbrother (the main story, unsurprisingly). And the Professor and Housekeeper novel she wrote was a gem too.

Didn't like Hotel Iris though.


« previous 1
back to top



Anyone can add books to this list.